The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tehran less thorny for Delhi

New Delhi, Jan. 31: Russia, China and the West have agreed to report Iran to the UN Security Council, but delayed any decision on a formal referral until after a scheduled International Atomic Energy agency meeting on March 6.

The delay in the formal referral to the council, where Iran could face sanctions, and the decision of Russia and China to vote with the US, Britain, France and Germany and the European Union has smoothed the way for India.

“I hope it’s sending a message that the international community is united,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair said after the agreement was reached at the end of late-night talks in London.

Iran responded angrily and threatened to halt snap UN inspections of its nuclear sites and resume uranium enrichment if it was reported to the council. It also warned it would hit back in the region if put under pressure.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said Delhi will take a decision after studying the draft resolution to be placed at the IAEA board meeting in Vienna on Thursday.

The Left parties, which had been warning the government against voting against Iran, appear to be satisfied.

After meeting the Prime Minister, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said the Left parties, too, will study the resolution to formulate their stand.

Official sources said India’s decision will depend upon the wording of the document. But Delhi is inclined to vote against Iran after Russia and China managed to convince the West to defer punitive action for a month. The two communist countries have come together with the rest of the five permanent members of the Security Council on the issue for the first time.

At the September meeting of the IAEA, India had voted against Iran alongside the West but opposed any reference to the council. The vote drew a lot of flak at home, with the Left parties coming out against the government. Russia and China had abstained from voting then.

Officials said India will stick to its position of avoiding confrontation with Iran and would like the country to be given more time to fall in line. Delhi maintains that Iran’s right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy, consistent with its international obligations, should be respected. India had backed Moscow’s initiative to avoid a confrontation, when it was trying to persuade Iran to enrich uranium in Russia.

The decision to abstain or vote against the resolution cannot be taken at this stage, the sources said. With Russia and China managing to buy time, all possibilities have been thrown open. Negotiations were still on, with a day to go for the meeting.

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